Accessibility Tools

What is Gamekeeper’s Thumb?

Gamekeeper's thumb, also known as skier's thumb, is a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, a band of tissue that supports the joint at the base of the thumb.

Causes of Gamekeeper’s Thumb

Damage to the ulnar collateral ligament may lead to chronic instability of the thumb, creating problems in its normal functioning. Gamekeeper's thumb can result from sports activities (while stopping a ball with a bare hand) or a fall on your outstretched thumb (especially while holding onto something like a ski pole).

Symptoms of Gamekeeper’s Thumb

The symptoms of gamekeeper’s thumb include pain, bruising and swelling at the base of the thumb. You may also experience loss of strength when pinching or gripping with the thumb.

Diagnosis of Gamekeeper’s Thumb

To diagnose gamekeeper’s thumb, your doctor may numb your thumb and perform a physical examination. If the tear is associated with a fracture of a bone, your doctor may order an X-ray or ultrasound.

Treatment for Gamekeeper’s Thumb

Your doctor may suggest applying ice to reduce swelling and prescribe pain-relieving medications. For a partially torn ligament, your doctor may order a splint or cast for about six weeks, followed by an exercise programme to improve the thumb’s range of motion. If the ligament is completely torn, surgery is usually recommended for repair.

  • NHS
  • The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • 
British Elbow & Shoulder Society
  • University of Warwick
  • Swor and D

Hospitals Attended

  • Stratford Hospital

    South Warwickshire
    NHS Foundation Trust
    Arden St, Stratford-upon-Avon,
    CV37 6NX
    Driving Directions


    Ext 4798
  • Nuffield Health
    Warwickshire Hospital

    The Chase, Old Milverton Lane
    Leamington Spa
    CV32 6RW
    Driving Directions


  • Warwick Hospital

    South Warwickshire
    NHS Foundation Trust
    Lakin Road, Warwick,
    CV34 5BW
    Driving Directions


    Ext 4798
  • The Grafton Suite,
    Building One

    Stratford Hospital, Arden Street
    Stratford-upon-Avon
    CV37 6NX
    Driving Directions


  • South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust
  • Nuffield Health
  • 
The Grafton Suite - South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust